Why is it always about a public official’s house? First it was Joe Ganim and then John Rowland and … and … and … could it be Shelton Mayor Mark Lauretti, the outgoing ringmaster of the Barnum Festival?
Well, federal law enforcement officials allege that James Botti, a Shelton developer, was a ringleader that larded up a public official in exchange for favorable treatment. Botti has been charged with conspiracy to defraud the citizens of Shelton, bribery of a public official, mail fraud, conspiracy to structure cash deposits, and two counts of making false statements to agents of the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation.
The indictment released on Monday alleges that Botti made a monetary payment and provided favors and benefits to an unnamed Shelton public official (identified as Public Official #1), to reward and induce the official to support a project Botti was pursuing on Bridgeport Avenue in Shelton. The indictment claims the public official then exerted influence over the Shelton Planning and Zoning Commission to get the project approved.
Why am I paying attention to this Shelton story? Yes, because the indictment claims that the funny business had occurred as early as 2002 when the Bridgeport corruption case (with me in it) had already exploded all over the front pages, and yes Lauretti served as Barnum Festival ringmaster this year. Lauretti, it turns out, had some improvements going on at his home during the period in question. Now I hope Lauretti has nothing to do with this case (he says he doesn’t), but it’s just too juicy not to speculate considering what was going on in Bridgeport at the time, and government allegations.
The government is going to charge a public official in this case–it’s just a matter of time. They may want Botti to sweat this out a bit; let him think about it to see if he wants to cooperate. He obviously hasn’t been in the mood to cooperate. He’s got a good lawyer in Willie Dow, the attorney that represented Rowland.
It’s amazing to me considering what was going on in Bridgeport publicly, that a state senator like Ernie Newton would have his hand out just weeks after the Bridgeport corruption case hit the front pages and now this Shelton case with allegations covering the period that the Bridgeport case was all over the front pages of Connecticut papers. When it comes to greed, let’s just say that even the highest-profile corruption cases will not deter some pols from getting their split. So it goes. If you’re wondering, I’m glad those days for me were long ago.
Some food for thought: heralded Shelton developer Bob Scinto has said repeatedly that he won’t do business in Bridgeport again because the city’s corrupt. Okay, now that this Shelton news has surfaced can we convince Bob to come back to Bridgeport?
News release from U.S. Attorney’s Office.
SHELTON DEVELOPER CHARGED WITH BRIBERY, CONSPIRACY, FRAUD, STRUCTURING DEPOSITS, AND LYING TO IRS AGENTS
Nora R. Dannehy, Acting United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, today announced that a federal grand jury sitting in New Haven has returned a seven-count Indictment charging JAMES BOTTI, 45, of Maple Avenue, Shelton, with various federal offenses relating to his alleged participation in a public corruption scheme that began in 2002. The seven-count Indictment charges BOTTI, a Shelton developer, with conspiracy to defraud the citizens of Shelton, bribery of a public official, mail fraud, conspiracy to structure cash deposits, structuring and two counts of making false statements to Special Agents of the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation Division.
The Indictment was returned on November 6 and unsealed today. BOTTI was arrested this morning by federal law enforcement agents at his home. He appeared this afternoon before United States Magistrate Judge Joan G. Margolis in New Haven and was released on a $200,000 bond.
The Indictment alleges, among other things, that BOTTI made a monetary payment and provided favors and benefits to an unnamed Shelton public official – identified in the Indictment as Public Official #1 – to reward and induce the public official to support a project that BOTTI was developing at 828 Bridgeport Avenue, and also to use his influence with the Shelton Planning and Zoning Commission. The Indictment alleges that BOTTI obtained approval for his 828 Bridgeport Avenue project after a second vote that occurred before the Planning and Zoning Commission in June 2006.
The Indictment alleges that BOTTI provided Public Official #1 with benefits, including payments to contractors and merchants in connection with work done at the public official’s residence. The Indictment also alleges that, in approximately December 2003, BOTTI represented that if Public Official # 1 or any other public official tried to interfere with BOTTI, BOTTI would expose the corrupt activities of “17 developers and a good chunk of town hall” in Shelton.
The Indictment further alleges that BOTTI conspired with another person to structure cash deposits and then lied to IRS agents about cash that BOTTI maintained. The Indictment details approximately $147,000 of deposits allegedly structured by BOTTI and his co-conspirator at numerous financial institutions in Connecticut.
Federal law requires all financial institutions to file a Currency Transaction Report (CTR) for currency transactions that exceed $10,000. To evade the filing of a CTR, individuals will often structure their currency transactions so that no single transaction exceeds $10,000. Structuring involves the repeated depositing or withdrawal of amounts of cash less than the $10,000 limit, or the splitting of a cash transaction that exceeds $10,000 into smaller cash transactions in an effort to avoid the reporting requirements. Even if the deposited funds are derived from a legitimate means, financial transactions conducted in this manner are still in violation of federal criminal law.
If convicted on all counts, BOTTI faces a total maximum term of 55 years of imprisonment, a fine of up to $1.75 million, and forfeiture in the amount of the structured funds.
Acting U.S. Attorney Dannehy stated that the investigation is continuing.
An Indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. The defendant is entitled to a fair trial at which it is the Government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
This matter is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation Division. The case is being prosecuted by Senior Litigation Counsel Richard J. Schechter.
News release from Mayor Finch
Acting Police Chief to Organize a Strategic Enforcement Team
New Approach to Capitalize on Success of Neighborhood Enforcement Team
Acting Police Chief Joseph L. Gaudett Jr. today announced the formation of an expanded Strategic Enforcement Team, which will capitalize on the success of the NET Team in making a positive impact on the city’s neighborhoods.
The new SET Team will increase in size from seven police officers and one sergeant, to 12 police officers, one sergeant and one lieutenant. This specialized unit’s role will be to assist the Patrol Division in the reduction of crime, and to improve the quality of life of city residents through the use of short-term crime suppression in targeted areas, dealing with crime “hot-spots” or unusual patrol problems, while aggressively enforcing state laws and city ordinances.
The SET Team will operate in the city’s three patrol sector areas. The point of contact for the SET Team in each sector will be the precinct commander, who will field calls from the public, as well as determine the “target” areas for SET Teams to tackle on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.
“This will allow Chief Gaudett to capitalize on the success of the NET Team while expanding its role both within the community and the police department itself,” Mayor Bill Finch said.
“The new structure of this team allows the department to continue to work in the community, while giving precinct commanders more direct input into where the trouble spots may be,” Acting Chief Gaudett said.
Assignment to the SET Team is open to all members of the department. Current members of the NET Team have been reassigned to Patrol, but may bid for positions on the SET Team if they so desire, said Acting Chief Gaudett.
The question is: When does it stop? Jail does not seem to scare people.
Lennie, interesting that they wait until right after the election. How sad; I hope for the people of Shelton that this thing gets over quickly. Deja vu …
*** Maybe since it’s really nothing new in the world of politics & has been done and accepted for so long. Many elected officials @ times seem to just take it for granted depending on the perks & who it’s coming from! Matter of fact, I think the feds should be working on more important things sometimes, especially when it’s chump change they’re talking about. Many of these cases are really made (whole) after they get someone to turn state or fed. evidence on the accused. The “Let’s make a deal” game made by “spill the beans, LTD”. When you think about the actual crime commited in some of these cases, it’s ridiculous the time some get compare to say, child molesters! Simply put, the crime does not fit the time given in “some” cases. ***
Live in a tent? How about learning some handyman skills, watch “This Old House” or buy the Home Depot “DIY” book and learn to do it yourself? I’m a jack of all trades, master of none and I can’t describe the feeling of fixing or building something yourself. After all, who is going to do the time other than yourself?
Let this be a warning to current and former elected officials who think they are in the clear after the passing of a couple of years. The statute of limitations is not as short as one would think. In the meantime, learn some usefull skills here: www .howstuffworks.com
Does anyone know which properties BOTTI has developed in the past? I’m curious …
Mojo, put on your thinking cap. Corrupt acts are not acceptable, which is why there are laws prohibiting these acts.
People don’t take this type of conduct for granted; they know that what they are doing is wrong and illegal, they just don’t expect to get caught and take some precautions to avoid detection of their acts. There is a big difference between Perks and Corrupt acts. The Feds do a great service to our society. Especially when they go after corrupt elected officials who are elected and entrusted to uphold the Constitution with their taking of an oath. I have never heard of a child molester taking an oath to be a child molester. It is not about the amount of money (chump change), it’s about trust. If one is corrupted with “chump change” what can we expect for Millions of dollars?
Remember that thanks to the game “Let’s make a deal” the Connecticut Corrections System grew and expanded. Thus Correction officers such as yourself benefited from the game. Are you sure you want to go back to the years before the R.I.C.O. act?
The best way to avoid having someone make a deal to put you away is not to get involved in criminal acts with others in the first place. That’s why I rob banks by myself.
Shelton’s problems are Shelton’s problems. Sadly, it looks like Rowland’s transgressions pale in comparison to Shelton’s “Political Official #1”.
While interesting, we need to focus on the severity of the Bridgeport financial crisis.
It’s amusing that someone suggested that Finch inherited a simmering financial mess that he managed to turn into a bonfire.
The man suffer from delusions of adequacy while we spiral into ruination.
Finch has Van Gogh’s ear for perspicacity.
I guess the prosecutor had to mention that a public official was involved, but I hope they reveal the public official soon. It’s not fair to have this speculation going on and Lauretti may be unjustly tied to this. People hear that he was having work done on his home during this period and they presume him guilty.
The Oracle of Omaha Steaks
“Pigs get fat! Hogs go to slaughter!!”
Today on the menu we will be serving some City Hall Smoker pork butt.
Maybe it’s just too early for me to be reading this blog but can you elaborate further on your comments? Are you saying that the feds should not bother with possible corruption cases? If it’s a federal law that’s been broken (paying income taxes) I believe that’s the feds’ job. I don’t believe you intended to mean that corruption allegations happen a lot so let’s not waste our time. Sadly, that’s how I read it. Please clarify.
Deirdre Imus, the author of “Greening Your Cleaning” and the wife of Don Imus, will be here today at Bridgeport City Hall Annex to talk about “Greening Bridgeport.”
Well this morning on his radio program, Don Imus being Don Imus in talking about his wife’s visit to Bridgeport said that he has driven through Bridgeport and had to lock his doors and and roll up his windows.
You wrote that:
“It’s amazing to me considering what was going on in Bridgeport publicly, that a state senator like Ernie Newton would have his hand out just weeks after the Bridgeport corruption case hit the front pages and now this Shelton case with allegations covering the period that the Bridgeport case was all over the front pages of Connecticut papers.”
About the same time that those articles were being published a reporter at an out-of-town newspaper (who had worked in Bridgeport) said of a former colleague: “I want to slap him upside his head. How could he have been so stupid?”
He was referring to a former reporter who had covered corruption in Bridgeport; seen a Mayor investigated; watched city officials go to jail; even written a book. None of which stopped him from getting caught up in another corruption scandal and going to jail.
Some things just can’t be explained.
IMUSTAFORGOT that when his lung was deflating that he and his inflated ego ended up at St. Vincent’s Medical Center in Bridgeport.
“Saints have Pasts and Sinners have Futures!”
If the Finch admenstruation has been monitoring OIB with all the great recommendations for conquering the deficit we would be out of this period.
FCO, yes, they can be explained. I was stupid! But I walked away from Ganim and Pinto more than a year before the Bridgeport case went public. And I didn’t say I was the Moses of my People. I didn’t say the devil made me do it. The point is if a pol is super greedy he/she will take. Others that play on the edge will be deterred by big brother. If Ganim, Rowland, Newton and Public Official #1 in Shelton do not have their hand out, there’s no case. These cases are driven by the greed of public/elected officials.
Sorry City Kitty, Bpt Kid and other Finch fans who are on his payroll, but Finch should be the next one indicted along with Sherwood. There is a new posting on the city website for a NEW position making $50 grand a year, a job that is already handled by someone under a different title. So who was this job “created” for? Why are new jobs and job titles still being made up for political friends while the hard-working veteran employees are being asked for furloughs and givebacks? Finch is a hypocrite!
“Bridgeport Now” LIVE Tuesdays at 8pm on Ch 77
Main story is about the General Electric Plant: City says will not be demolished.
On the show: John Bolton
Today’s rundown of stories:
– Development focus: The GE Plant
– Historical Preservation with Charles Brilvitch
– Lieberman, should I stay or should I go
– Slow food author speaks at Bloodroot
– Make your allergies go away with local honey
Seen in Bridgeport, Fairfield, Stratford, Woodbridge, Orange, Milford.
Bridgeport needs some foster care.
Quotes from the ctpost:
“The goals of the conspiracy, federal prosecutors say, were to push through the developer’s projects, funnel money to Public Official #1 as well as two zoning commissioners and threaten a takedown of other developers and other Shelton City Hall employees if the scheme was exposed.”
“But the relationship between Botti and the unnamed Public Official #1 wasn’t always symbiotic. At one point, prosecutors say “Botti represented that if Public Official #1 tried to interfere with Botti, Botti would expose the corrupt activities of ’17 developers and a good chunk of Town Hall’ in Shelton and said that he could cause the federal government to ‘collapse town hall.”
Botti bing, botti bang! Talk about shaking down the system. Now that Botti is on the hot seat, will he turn in the 17 bodies mentioned above? This sounds like a scene from my favorite episode–RezkObama.
Good job by Gaudett in bringing back and expanding SET unit. Under this directive it will follow the arbitrator’s decision in favor of the union.
It will also abrogate the city spending any more good money after bad in appealing the arbitrator’s decision with outside counsel.
Now Bill is praising, and rightfully so, Gaudett on his decision. The question is why didn’t he take this position from the beginning regarding the arbitrator’s ruling?
How much did we spend on outside counsel to set up the appeal?
NET Team in Bridgeport.
Officers have told me that the NET Team under the previous leadership was biased and created much disatisfaction. I am looking for people to speak about this on an episode of “Bridgeport Now”.
Meanwhile, does anyone know what plans have been discussed regarding the GE Plant on Remington Street? This is like the elephant in the room no one wants to discuss. Of course Steel Point is the other one. What are the issues concerning the GE Plant?
Bpt Now; The main reason that GE does not tear down or sell those buildings is pollution. 20 years ago they put in test sites that monitor the underground pollution. GE has a number of plants like this around the country. It is cheaper for them to pay the taxes than to clean up the pollution.
That’s what a city council person just told me, that GE is at minimal usage so cleanup expenses not incurred. Meanwhile the city sits there with a useless elephant. Other areas have pollution, like the Whole Foods project in FFLD next to Home Depot. Is there a way to measure the degree of remediation required?
Bpt: I don’t have the answer but I do know that the test wells extend up into the little league fields and into the unused parking areas near Asylum St. I assume that as long as these properties are not disturbed they are safe and that’s the reason GE does not want to start cleaning these areas because I don’t think anyone really knows what is under the dirt or what the costs will be.
Have you visited the ctpost comment section lately?
If you do and all of a sudden the screen goes dark and a strange icon appears, don’t panic thinking it’s a bug. It’s the new pop-up ads from the ctpost advertising gurus. Now my question to you is: When are your pop-up ads coming?
Outreach worker, once again I don’t work for the city. I think you do and that’s why you are so miserable. Why don’t you get a job that you enjoy? I have my own business and I mind my own business; that’s why I’m not on this blog complaining all the time, I enjoy what I do.
#11- I believe what I wrote was clear enough, many times the “actual” crime does not fit the time given. The example given was the revolving door “time” given to child molesters which in my opinion are worse scum than an elected official that puts in a favorable word for a developer that gave him tickets to the football game or broadway show, etc. Many times the feds really don’t have enough serious evidence ’til they get a co-conspirator & scare them to turn states evidence & sometimes add more to the case that might have not been known or evidence collected! Now please, as some like to do on this forum, don’t add words or try & play psychology into what I’m saying ’cause it’s clear enough. And as for the RICO act there Joel, they’ve put many innocent people in jail too! Besides with or without RICO there will always be job security in the corrections business. I retired from Corrections after #21 yrs.; could have hung around till #25 but sometimes it’s wise to get out while the going’s good & you still have your health & sanity. Besides, when you walk in through those heavy steel doors, there are no guarantees that you’ll walk out! Yeah, I too believe an elected official gives an oath to serve the public in good faith & some really do step over that line of right & wrong. But people forget sometimes that these officials are human too and are subject to make mistakes and bad decisions @ times. But I say again, @ “times” in these type of crimes, the time given does not always fit the “actual” crime commited. Sometimes these same elected officials that have shamed their positions in serving the public have been some of the best political leaders of our times! ***
Ok, what the f**k? Will Democrats keep rolling over and taking it in the butt? Lieberman gets to be McCain’s butt boy, swoon over Sarah Palin’s tits, and stick it to Obama in the back and he still gets to keep his chairmanship? This is the fundamental problem with Democrats; they are so concerned with compromising and keeping peace that they don’t know how to demand loyalty. I hope they carved out their pound of flesh from Senator Traitor Joe. In general Republicans are mean nasty bastards and Democrats are pansies with very few exceptions. Perhaps they talk a good game of slash and burn but they always take the high road, at least nationally. Further proof is Clinton as Secretary of State. Now if anyone comes close to being a mean, nasty, self-promoting Democrat, it is the Clintons. That is actually a compliment because if anyone is going to twist arms it is the Clintons. (Bridgeport is the exception to the no-arm-twisting rule except it is Democrat on Democrat, or demigod on demagogue.) Obama can take the high road but he needs henchman to do the dirty work. I don’t care if Lieberman can get to McCain or possibly get closer to a veto-proof Senate. The Democrats need to make an example of him not set a precedent of traitor toleration. The really sick thing is there are a lot of Democrats who still think Joe Lieberman is a “swell” guy. Lieberman has a swollen head with droopy hang-dog cheeks and will sniff any asshole that will give him a bone.
P.S. City Kitty, please just give it up, you’re just embarrassing yourself now.
Johnb, tell us what you really think (grin).
johnb – I should give it up??? I have nothing to be embarrassed about. You should be embarrassed with what you just wrote on this blog.
“johnb”#29, you are right on target with this one.
Go ahead Kitty scratch his eyes out. Deep within the bowels of GE lies untold horrors of mutant worms with glowing bodies digging their way through Bridgeport’s soil, leaving trails of radioactive slime in their path. OR would we be lucky to have tunnels of glowing slime as the problem. Perhaps what is really concealed beneath the brick and mortar is GE’s equivalent of area 51. Are the property tax dollars really more economical than attempting a cleanup of Raybestos proportions or is it an attempt to protect something even more sinister, more secret and ominous than growing, glowing worms in little suits of asbestos, swimming in toxic waste?
#29- Should the Dems. have gone after Joe for backing his buddy McCain? An Independant politician backing a Republican, unheard of in these times of political unrest! Especially when the independant used to be a fairly good ol’ boy for the Dems. So much so that he was endorsed as the V/P Dem. running mate with Gore. ReCount election is lost, then 2yrs. later a silver spoon millionaire from Greenwich decides to throw some pesos around to the Dem. Party, ’cause he’s got a mind to be a U.S Senator! So those loyal Dems. decide that maybe it’s time to let Joe go, quietly of course without any indications of backing Mr. money bags Ned Lamont. (I believe his name was?) So after Lamont wins the primary, then some of the loyal Dems. come out of the closet you might say, Dodd being one of them since he had plans of running for president & needed “$”. But wait, Joe’s not done yet, he’s running as an independant, what’s this? And the rest is history, Ned’s gone & Joe’s still here giving it right back to his good loyal pals, the Dems. He’s done a decent job as chairman, if not he would have definitely been gone. So was it time to try & fuck him again for backing a friend that happens to be a republican? All of the strong, moderate, movers & shakers from the north east-coast states are either losing in elections or getting soft in their old age & should retire. Plus there’s no more loyalty anymore regardless of how well a political job you do anymore. So let Joe be & let him go out by retirement or losing his seat to a good younger person moving up in the dirty world of politics! He’s earned it by now! ***